German drugmaker Bayer has entered an agreement with Acuitas Therapeutics, the firm behind Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, for its delivery technology that can be used to transport in vivo gene editing candidates to the liver.
Acuitas makes use of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology for this purpose, which was first used in Alnylam’s rare disease drug, Onpattro, to deliver small interfering RNA. Later, the technology was used to deliver mRNA in BioNTech’s and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty.
Bayer plans to use this technology to innovate the ways in which genetic material can be transported to targets in the body, especially the transient delivery of gene-editing RNA components to the liver. Under the agreement, particular provisions have been made to cover high-potency ionizable lipid technology as well. However, financial details of the Bayer-Acuitas deal have not been made public by either party involved.
“Developing therapies at scale is fundamental to providing breakthrough innovations to patients who have no time to wait,” said Jost Reinhard, head of cell and gene therapy at Bayer’s pharmaceuticals division, in a statement. “Adding Acuitas’ clinically-validated and scalable LNP technology to our genomic medicine toolbox is another important step to advance our leadership in the field of cell and gene therapies.”
Before Acuitas proved its mettle in the pandemic, it mostly kept a low profile, except for its legal tiff with Tekmira Pharmaceuticals caused by an early collaboration with Alnylam. Despite this, the firm was able to operate behind the scenes. After putting an early end to the global pandemic, the firm has been embroiled in legal troubles regarding whose intellectual property actually underpins the product.
Pfizer, however, has been excessively satisfied with this collaboration, so much so that the company has signed a nonexclusive development and option agreement with Acuitas. Ten targets have been set up under the agreement.
Acuitas Therapeutics first opened its doors in the late 2000s and was then known as AlCana Technologies. Even back then, the firm kept a low profile.